While the Boeing 777-200ER that operated Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in March 2014 is yet to be found, the Australian government is pressing ahead with preparations for the recovery for the missing jet.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional development says the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) is calling for expressions of interest from firms that wish to conduct the recovery operation once the aircraft is found.
“Preparations are being made so a recovery operation can be mobilised quickly and effectively when needed,” a statement from the Deputy Prime Minister’s office released on Thursday said.
“Responses to the request for expressions of interest will allow the ATSB to assess which organisations are able to supply the equipment and expertise required for any recovery operation.
“Decisions in relation to any recovery operation will be made jointly by the Australian, Malaysian and Chinese governments.”
The closing date for expressions of interest was February 18 2015. MH370, operated by a 777-200ER with registration 9M-MRO, disappeared enroute from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 4 2014 carrying 239 passengers and crew.
The search being conducted by the ATSB is focused on an area in the Indian Ocean off the West Australian coast measuring about 60,000 square kilometres. Four vessels were currently involved in the underwater search.
The most recent update from the Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) published on January 21 said about 26 per cent of the total search area, or about 16,000 square kilometres, had been covered.
“Notwithstanding current weather conditions and assuming no other significant delays with vessels, equipment or from the weather, the current underwater search area may be largely completed around May 2015,” the report said.
The 2014-15 federal budget allocated $49.6 million towards the search effort for MH370.
Including defence and other costs, such as the establishment of the JACC, the federal government expected to contribute provide $89.9 million over two years from 2013-14 as part of the international search effort.
“The Australian Government remains committed to the search for MH370,” Minister Truss’ statement said.